Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green Party candidate Torbjorn Zetterlund, Willowdale
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Torbjorn Zetterlund is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Willowdale riding. Wikinews' Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.
Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.
Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process? Why did you choose to run in this constituency?
- Seven years ago, I had a life-changing experience. I was paralyzed from the Guillain Barre Syndrome and spent weeks in hospital unable to move around. I've since recovered but those weeks put things in perspective. I had time; I was removed from my daily life, where like many others I was spending my time chasing a dream of a bigger salary, bigger house. I watched TV; I saw programs about the environment and the effects of global warming and decided I should personally do "something" about it. I joined the Green party because the party's platform reflects my own values with its strong concern for the environment. I would like my children and others like them to enjoy clean air, clean land, and clean water and a sustainable future.
- I also believe in serving my community. Willowdale is important to me, I have lived in the neighbourhood for seven years, most of the time I've been in Canada. It is place that is welcoming community that represents the best of Toronto. I founded [www.findmore.ca a community neighbourhood website], where I write articles on the environment and social issues and engage with members to form neighbourhood groups to discuss how they impact on local concerns. I am a volunteer coach for my kids’ soccer and ice hockey teams because I believe that involving children in a healthy life style is essential to their life-long well-being.
What prior political experience do you have? What skills and insight can you bring to office, from other non-political positions you may have held?
- My grandfather was involved in city politics in Sweden and I learnt from, during my military service in Sweden, I was the union leader of the soldiers rights. I am a resource manager at a Toronto software firm. Coming from the world of project management, I know how to manage, motivate and empower people. My business experience has also taught me, that it’s important to fulfill promises you make to people, a crucial skill for a political representative.
Which of your competitors do you expect to pose the biggest challenge to your candidacy? Why? What makes you the most desirable of all candidates running in the riding?
- The older parties are a challenge because people tend to vote along party lines and that is hard to change. However, I believe people, young and old, are realizing the importance of a healthy environment, as I have done, and are starting to realize that the Green Party is a viable alternative to those parties that have failed to lead on this issue.
- I am an open and friendly person and will be approachable to my constituents. My willingness to communicate is the key strength I bring to the table.
What do you feel are the three most important issues to voters in your riding? Are these the same top three issues that are most important to you? What would you do to address these issues?
- The top three issues for voters in Willowdale are Environment, Health Care and Schools. My priorities are similar, except I would add Proportional Representation. This election, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the electoral system and make sure that every vote counts.
- The Green Party has a comprehensive platform for addressing Environment, Health Care and Schools, based on sensible and affordable choices. We would shift taxes from income or payroll to waste and pollution. This will promote good policy without costing more. Cleaner air and water will mean lower health costs. Last year 88,000 people went to Emergency Rooms because of air pollution-caused difficulties. We also need to focus on preventive medicine and encourage our Health Care system to use alternative medicine, where appropriate, to keep us healthy. We should be encouraging children and adults to eat right and be active by providing nutrition education and counselling and exercise programs.
What should be the first order of business in the 39th Legislative Assembly?
- The Green Party would implement its economic plan of shifting taxes to shift behaviours and to upload services to the province that has been downloaded by previous governments, so we can start building stronger more sustainable cities in our province.
Are the property taxes in your riding at a fair level for the amount of services received in the municipality?
- At the centre of the Green Party’s platform is a new way of thinking about taxes – where we shift from taxing what you earn to what you burn. With regards to property taxes, this would mean replacing the existing system with a "location value tax" based only on land and not building values, to encourage denser growth in urban areas.
How can the province lead the way in stimulating job creation?
- Ontario could create many new jobs by shifting our economy to green technology. The province can stimulate job creation by reducing taxes on employment (which will be replaced by a carbon tax), by supporting new technology, by encouraging the manufacturing of wind turbines, fuel-efficient vehicles, public transit, eco-tourism, energy efficient materials and construction. We don’t have to keep doing things the old way.
- Also, I would urge people to buy locally produced goods which will stimulate our economy while it helps to reduce pollution.
What are your views on the mixed member proportional representation (MMP) referendum?
- If we want to have democratic representation in this province we must move to Mixed Member Proportional Representation. The current method has repeatedly produced governments that have had a majority of seats with anywhere from 37% - 48% of the votes. No wonder voters are apathetic. They are not being heard and a majority doesn’t choose the government.
- MMP is a system chosen by a group of Ontario citizens who researched all options and have recommended this one. Canada is one of the few remaining democracies still using an outmoded unfair system.
What role, if any, does “new media” play in your campaign, and the campaign of your party? (websites, blogs, Facebook, YouTube videos, etc) Do you view it as beneficial, or a challenge?
- New media is an important part of the Green Party’s campaign. The official website (www.gpo.ca) offers blogs and multimedia – including a video of Frank de Jong responding to the Leader’s Debate that was broadcast simultaneously with the official traditional media event. The Willowdale Green Party website (http://www.willowdalegreenparty.ca/) is currently a bit more bare bones, but we plan to keep beefing it up as resources allow. When we find good such as YouTube’s John Cleese video explaining proportional representation or the BBC documentary Global Dimming we will post I.
Of the decisions made by Ontario's 38th Legislative Assembly, which was the most beneficial to your this electoral district? To the province as a whole? Which was least beneficial, or even harmful, to your this riding? To the province as a whole?
- The efforts to offer rebates for more efficient appliances and cars was a step in the right direction. The failure of the provincial government to provide funding for Toronto’s infrastructure has caused underfunding of the TTC, greater gridlock and resultant air pollution and is costs our econmomy huge amounts of money every day.
- The least beneficial decision to our riding was the failure to close the dirty, coal-burning generating plants at Nanticoke http://www.cleanairalliance.org/resource/elect07.pdf and Lambton which are the major causes of smog in Willowdale and Ontario as a whole.
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